Term papers writing service


Philip ii habsburg and the dutch revolution in the 17th century

But before the rise of cultural memory studies in the 1980s and 1990s, scholars long assumed that more generally, too, it was not expedient in the new political situation of the reconciled Habsburg Netherlands to remember the civil war that was the Revolt and to use references to the conflict in support of political arguments.

Vermaseren has pointed out that Habsburg authorities and Southern elites never succeeded in bringing an official government-endorsed history of the conflict on the market, despite their evident desire and attempts to do so. More recently, however, scholars with a much broader source repertoire have uncovered the strong ties between religion, politics and memory. Luc Duerloo argued that the Archdukes Albert and Isabella in the first decades of the seventeenth century developed a type of piety that sacralised their dynastic power in the Low Countries.

He has shown that their practices of piety were in many ways also practices of memory. She observes that accounts of intercessions by the Holy Virgin during the Revolt reminded the population of the verity of Catholicism and the mistaken belief of Protestants on the other side of the border with the North.

  1. Himself dissatisfied with the Habsburg administration in the South, he defected to the Dutch enemy.
  2. The Dutch revolt was the result of long-simmering tensions over economic and religious issues. In the meantime, enemies of the Habsburgs as well as domestic political dissidents such as Van den Bergh used memories of the sixteenth-century Revolt to incite popular opposition against the regime in the Habsburg Netherlands.
  3. The sources mostly consist of propagandistic literature published by and on behalf of key political figures during the three crises.

When openly discussing the conflict, they generally used euphemisms, and emphasised the iniquity of heretics characterised as evil foreignersthe innocence of the native South Netherlandish population, the providential support for the Habsburg cause, and — consequently — the ultimate triumph of Catholicism. Unlike Northern accounts of the Revolt, their narratives did not require elaborate chronologies of events. Other historians have shown that this attitude contributed to the divergence of North and South Netherlandish identities as well as the irreconcilability of rebel and loyalist interpretations of the past in peace negotiations.

This, too, has been an understudied topic in historical research due to the influential assumption that the Southern Netherlands were only a plaything of foreign powers and did not develop a sense of national awareness that needed a national history to prop it up.

But political references to the conflict increasingly resembled the outspoken memory practices in the Dutch Republic.

Eighty Years' War

On the basis of three cases, this article asks how and why this shift occurred. The first case examines the conflicting political usage of war memories by Habsburg government authorities and Count Henry van den Bergh during the conspiracy of nobles against the regime in 1632. The sources mostly consist of propagandistic literature published by and on behalf of key political figures during the three crises.

I have measured these sources against anonymous pamphlet literature, correspondence, and handwritten chronicles. Yet both states had serious political problems too. The Republic remained a confederation of independent states barely held together by the cultivation of a common enemy.

Introduction

And in the Southern Netherlands, support for the Habsburgs was not self-evident. The reign of the Archdukes Albert and Isabella 1598—1621 proved very successful compared to the early stages of the Revolt in the late sixteenth century.

Government anxiety was not limited to the Habsburg Netherlands. On December 21, 1629 the Spanish inquisitor-general Cardinal Antonio Zapata y Cisneros mentioned in a meeting of the Spanish Council of State the power vacuum of 1576 following the death of Governor General Luis de Requesens, as a reminder of the revolutionary potential of a discontent population.

Appointed maestro de campo general in the Army of Flanders in 1628, as a temporary replacement for Ambrogio Spinola, senior government officials held Van den Bergh responsible for the loss of Den Bosch in 1629 and accused him of treachery.

Himself dissatisfied with the Habsburg administration in the South, he defected to the Dutch enemy. They agreed that Frederick Henry would substitute his already existing plans to march on Antwerp for a campaign along the Meuse River. Van den Bergh, who was then stadholder of Upper Guelders, would feign ignorance of these plans. In the meantime, enemies of the Habsburgs as well as domestic political dissidents such as Van den Bergh used memories of the sixteenth-century Revolt to incite popular opposition against the regime in the Habsburg Netherlands.

In 1632, the States General hoped that Southern elites would do so again.

  1. Propagandists in 1635 were inspired by the events of 1632 fig.
  2. Propagandists in 1635 were inspired by the events of 1632 fig.
  3. He explained how in the 1580s the rebels had colluded with foreign lords such as Francis of Anjou and the earl of Leicester and how little good could be expected from repeating such treachery.
  4. And in the Southern Netherlands, support for the Habsburgs was not self-evident. A contemporary chronicler copied a triumphalist song that was allegedly sung in 1635.

His assumption that people would understand references to the Revolt is not surprising. Scholars have already shown that elites could access information about the Revolt in private libraries.

On June 8 the chaplain sighed: The invocation of the power vacuum of 1576 and the subsequent troubles served to persuade the population that support for Count Henry would lead to an undesirable return to the tumultuous and dangerous period of the Revolt. The examples above demonstrate that a political conflict in the Southern Netherlands could apparently be fought using references to the early Revolt.

The States General of the Dutch Republic and Count Henry used the example of the 1570s to show that there was an inspiring precedent for opposition against the regime, while Isabella used exactly the same historical episode to argue that no one should want to choose the chaos of the sixteenth-century past over the relative security of the present.

So far, memories of the Revolt lacked elaborate chronologies and supporting material. He explained how in the 1580s the rebels had colluded with foreign lords such as Francis of Anjou and the earl of Leicester and how little good could be expected from repeating such treachery: The attempts of the Dutch States General and the noble conspirators failed: One anonymous chronicler wrote that this was only to be expected: Following the disastrous loss of cities along the Meuse, Isabella convened the States General in 1632—1633 to initiate peace negotiations.

Keep Exploring Britannica

The peace negotiations led to nothing. In reaction to this tightening net of the enemy, France negotiated a treaty of mutual assistance with the Dutch, in which they agreed to invade the Habsburg Netherlands and split up the conquered lands. The attempted capture of Leuven was unsuccessful, however, and strong opposition to Franco-Dutch aggressions led to a surge of anti-French and anti-Dutch propaganda.

South Netherlandish propagandists, spurred on by and sometimes consisting of government authorities, condemned the excesses in Tienen and in their writings tried to encourage popular hatred of the enemies.

The Significance of Philip II of Spain & the Dutch Revolt

Some of the pamphlets, such as Den Hollantschen iavv en de Fransche kravvvey, visualised the cruelties of French and Dutch soldiers in the city of Tienen fig. In 1632, references to the sixteenth-century troubles had served primarily to pacify the population, disarm the noble troublemakers and limit the damage they had inflicted on the political stability of the South.

Yet by subsequently allowing and even engaging in the public usage of the Revolt in political discussions, the regime set a new example. Propagandists in 1635 were inspired by the events of 1632 fig. In these comparisons between past and present, patriotism was one of the most important themes and closely linked to South Netherlandish interpretations of the Revolt.

Pro-Habsburg authors presented the collaboration between Netherlandish rebels and the French during the sixteenth-century Revolt as foreshadowing the events of 1635. The printed marginalia recalled the early 1580s, when Antwerp, Mechelen, Brussels and Tienen had been Calvinist republics, and implicitly emphasised the fact that Leuven had not fallen to the Calvinists.

A contemporary chronicler copied a triumphalist song that was allegedly sung in 1635: A case in point is the governorship of Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, duke of Alba in 1567—1573. Northerners commemorated Alba enthusiastically as the ultimate villain because he had persecuted political dissidents and executed more than a thousand of them. Habsburg authorities also engaged with the war propaganda of the French king.

Around 1635 the regime also mobilised other professors, including Nicolaus Vernulaeus and Erycius Puteanus, to discredit the French and Dutch enemies. They drew extensively from the work of two historians, well-known in the Habsburg Netherlands, whose Catholic and pro-Habsburg credentials were untarnished, Florentius van der Haer and Franciscus Haraeus.

The authors referred to Van Meteren in a brief discussion of the Iconoclastic Furies of 1566 in Antwerp, during which Calvinist zealots had destroyed Catholic imagery of the Church of Our Lady, notably images of the Holy Virgin and Jesus Christ, and also violated sacred hosts.